(Pictured: An uneasy alliance.)
In the wake of the U.S. attack on the bin Laden compound, four-star General Ashfaq Kayani, successor to Pervez Musharraf as the Pakistan army’s chief of staff and called by the New York Times “the most powerful man in the country,” finds himself between a rock and a hard place.
The rock, according to the Times
[Gen. Kayani] faces such intense discontent over what is seen as his cozy relationship with the United States that a colonels’ coup, while unlikely, was not out of the question. . . . The Pakistani Army is essentially run by consensus among 11 top commanders, known as the Corps Commanders, and almost all of them, if not all, were demanding that General Kayani get much tougher with the Americans, even edging toward a break, Pakistanis who follow the army closely said.
And the hard place . . .
Washington, with its own hard line against Pakistan, had pushed General Kayani into a defensive crouch
. . . to rally support among his rank-and-file troops, who are almost uniformly anti-American. . . . General Kayani made an extraordinary tour of more than a dozen garrisons, mess halls and other institutions in the six weeks since the May 2 raid that killed Bin Laden.
General Kayani had already become a more obstinate partner [with the United States], standing ever more firm with each high-level American delegation that has visited since the raid.
While not clear what part Kayani played, a possible example of this is the arrest by the ISI (which Kayani once headed) of five informants who helped the Central Intelligence Agency with the Bin Laden raid. The Times also reports
Apart of his survival mechanism, General Kayani could well order the Americans to stop the drone program completely.
In which case you can kiss much of the United States’ military aid goodbye. In any event, if Kayani doesn’t survive as army chief, good luck to the next guy who tries to walk that tightrope.